Sat | Sep 19, 2020

Regional News Briefs

Published:Sunday | August 9, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

T&T holds general election tomorrow

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):

Voters in Trinidad and Tobago will head to the polls tomorrow to elect a new government following an election campaign severely hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The election in the twin-island republic is not the only one in the Caribbean where the pandemic has played a major role in limiting the campaigns, following upon similar polls in Anguilla, Suriname, Guyana, and St Kitts and Nevis.

Political parties have had to be innovative, using virtual meetings to spread their messages and spending huge sums on radio and television advertisements and air time. In addition, the closures of the borders have presented yet another problem, with opposition parties claiming that the government has used the closures to prevent nationals from returning home to vote.

Trinidad and Tobago, where 1,134,136 people are eligible to cast ballots, is no exception.

The small opposition People’s Empowerment Party wrote to President Paula Mae Weeks on two occasions urging her to postpone the August 10 poll because of the virus, to no avail.

The elections are not being observed by regional and international observers after the government said it wanted all observers to observe the protocols governing COVID-19, including the 14-day quarantine.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he had extended invitations to the Commonwealth and CARICOM to observe the elections. But both indicated that it would have been an expensive venture, given that their members would have had to arrive here at least two weeks ahead of the polls.

There are an estimated 146 candidates representing 19 political parties and four independents contesting the 41 seats in Monday’s election, with the ruling People’s National Movement the only party fielding candidates in all constituencies.


Guyana to probe election fiasco


President Dr Irfaan Ali yesterday said that a forensic probe would be conducted into the problems surrounding the disputed March 2 regional and general elections that eventually led to him being declared winner of the presidential poll and the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) also coming out winners.

“Very importantly, we will pursue the necessary reforms to make our democracy stronger and our electoral process more transparent,” Ali said as his inauguration as he announced plans for the forensic probe into the recent polls. He warned that those found culpable would be punished.

Ali was declared head of state last Sunday after the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) accepted the report reluctantly filed by Chief Elections Officer Kevin Lowenfield based on the national recount of votes supervised by CARICOM.

Yesterday, the new president thanked CARICOM, the United States, Canada, Britain and the European Union as well as the international observers such as the Organisation of American States (OAS), the Commonwealth and the Carter Center for their role in ensuring the preservation of democracy.

He made particular reference to former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur, who led the Commonwealth observer team but died on July 27 from heart complications in his homeland..



Haiti records six new deaths as COVID cases continue to rise

Haiti has recorded six new deaths as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) as the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) recorded 17 new cases of the virus between Friday and yesterday.

The deaths occurred brought the total number of fatalities from the COVID-19 disease in the country to 177.

The government said that the 17 new cases moved the total number of cases to 7,599, since the first case was detected on March 19 this year, and as had been the case on previous occasions, men accounted for most of the cases.

The country currently has 2,529 active cases.

The announcement of the increased cases comes as the United States has issued a maximum level-four traveller alert for Haiti, urging its nationals to avoid travel to the CARICOM country due to COVID-19, crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued a level-three travel health alert for Haiti due to COVID-19 and recommend that American nationals reconsider their trips to Haiti emphasizing, “Travellers to Haiti may experience border closures, airport closures, travel prohibitions, stay at home orders, business closures, and other emergency conditions within Haiti due to COVID-19,” the US authorities said.

They said violent crime, such as armed robbery and carjacking, is common.

“The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in some areas of Haiti, “ Washington further said.


PAHO helps procure COVID-19 tests for Caribbean countries

WASHINGTON, United States (CMC):

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says it has leveraged its Strategic Fund for Public Health Supplies to procure and distribute millions of COVID-19 diagnostic kits, personal protective equipment and other essential health supplies to countries throughout the Americas, including the Caribbean.

PAHO said that the Strategic Fund procured an estimated US$75 million worth of COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction tests for six countries, working with suppliers to purchase, deliver and distribute the supplies.

So far, over 10 million PCR tests have been sent to six countries and PAHO said the fund also obtained PPEs including face shields, gloves, goggles, gowns, masks and respirators for 26 countries, valued at US$14.6 million